President Trump on Wednesday said he didn’t know about the Proud Boys but that the group should “stand down” amid intense criticism of his remarks at the previous night’s presidential debate that the far-right group should “stand back and stand by.”
Trump on Wednesday faced blowback from a number of Republicans who said he should have forcefully denounced white supremacy when he was given the chance.
“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are,” Trump told reporters when departing for a campaign trip to Minnesota. “I can only say they have to stand down. Let law enforcement do their work.”
Trump, however, again tried to equivocate on the matter, saying “the problem is on the left” while railing against antifa, a loosely affiliated collection of left-wing protesters.
Pressed on whether he would denounce white supremacists, including those who support him, Trump tried to shift the conversation to his support for law enforcement before claiming he has “always denounced any form of that.”
“But… Joe Biden has to say something about antifa,” he added.
FBI Director Christopher Wray in a hearing earlier this month pointed out that antifa refers to an ideology, not an organization.
Trump’s comments about how the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by” came after debate moderator Chris Wallace asked if Trump would be willing to condemn white supremacists. The president said “sure,” but when pressed to actually do so, he did not.
It immediately became one of the most talked-about moments of the debate and a headache for those tasked with defending his remarks.
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